This highly influential cult classic from writer-director Jack Hill (Switchblade Sisters, Foxy Brown) tells the demented and darkly comic tale of the Merrye children -- Elizabeth (Beverly Washburn), Virginia (Jill Banner) and Ralph (Sid Haig)-- all of whom suffer from a rare genetic malady that causes its victims to mentally regress to a condition of "pre-human savagery and cannibalism."
The children live in the old family mansion, and though under the cautious guardianship of chauffeur Bruno (Lon Chaney Jr.), they manage to terrorize anyone or anything which passes through the gates. So when the family is visited by a pair of distant relatives and their greedy lawyer, a wild night of murderous thrills ensues.
Dark Sky Films proudly presents the Director's Cut of Spider Baby, transferred and restored in High Definition from the original 35mm negative under the personal supervision of Jack Hill and featuring previously lost footage, rounded out with never-before-seen featurettes created.
Bonus Features Include:
Feature length-commentary with writer-director Jack Hill and actor Sid Haig
"The Hatching of Spider Baby" (32 min featurette)
"Spider Stravinsky: The Cinema Sounds of Ronald Stein" (11 min featurette)
"The Merrye House Revisited" (8 min featurette)
Alternate Opening Title Sequence ("Cannibal Orgy")
Re-titled Spider Baby
in 1968 after the original title Cannibal Orgy
, Jack Hill's black and white proto horror-comedy influenced numerous films, especially those featuring boxed or bagged body parts, like Phantasm's
yellow-bleeding finger and Blue Velvet's
ear found in the meadow. Spider Baby
is about an inbred family cursed with Merrye's Disease, which transforms even sweet children, Elizabeth (Beverly Washburn), Virginia (Jill Banner), and Ralph (Sid Haig) into murderous cannibals. Virginia steals the opening scene, during which she plays "spider," cutting the ear off a messenger who is sent to their decrepit Victorian mansion to deliver news of the house's confiscation. Caretaker Bruno (Lon Chaney Jr.) futilely chides Virginia in preparation for a visit from their oblivious, snooty cousin, Emily Howe (Carol Ohmart) and her husband, Peter Howe (Quinn Redeker), who plan to take the home. As more people pile into the house for a meeting, including lawyer Schlocker (Karl Schnazer) and his innocent assistant, Ann (Mary Mitchell), the kids cut loose, hacking everyone up and feeding them to their uncles locked in the basement. Jack Hill, whose films range from horror (Switchblade Sisters
) to Blaxploitation (Coffy, Foxy Brown
), made sure in Spider Baby
to balance comedy with spook so its cannibalistic themes scare but don't absolutely disgust. A brilliant dinner party scene, in which the Merryes serve roasted cat and garden bugs, passing on the meat because they "don't eat dead things," is one of the tensest and funniest cannibal film scenes ever made, up there with Fuad Ramses' Egyptian feast in Roger Corman's Blood Feast
. This special edition DVD includes interesting featurettes that detail the making of the movie and the whereabouts of the real mansion, though the best part of Spider Baby
is pondering how bizarre this film must have seemed to the 1960s youth. Trinie Dalton